Eccentric doesn’t just refer to the strange guy down the street or wearing weird clothes while working out…it also applies to a specific motion in exercise.
I was recently looking for some scholarly research around strength training to see what the latest and greatest information is around frequency and intensity and found a study that compared eccentric to concentric strength training. That would be resisting while the muscle is lengthening vs. contracting.
Back in the day, when I was weight training a lot, a negative (eccentric) was something we’d frequently add in at the end of the last set for a particular muscle group but not every workout. The reasons for that in my mind were that it was difficult to do – it absolutely required a spotter to take the weight from you at the end of the repetition, so it stood to reason that you wouldn’t want to do a whole set of negatives or you’d wear out your spotter. It was also felt to be an excellent way to bust a plateau or get that extra little bit out of a workout.
Most people are far stronger in the eccentric motion. To do an effective negative with conventional weights requires a weight you could not lift in the positive direction. So we’d do it when we had already fatigued our muscles in the positive/concentric motion. You had to have a spotter (or more than one) for most exercises, and to be safe, that spotter had to be “on it” during that repetition.
So what did the study conclude? The eccentric motion is more effective at making the muscles get stronger and also superior at making tendons thicker. You can read the study here. Indeed, if you read the discussion section of the study they make it clear that the benefits of eccentric training extend beyond just strength and tendon thickness.
I am babbling on about this because our ARX machines give you a safe way right here in Atlanta to work your muscles at maximum effort in both concentric and eccentric. That is the secret to the 20 minutes once a week.
Give it a try and see for yourself – schedule here.
Testing for body composition is easily available in Atlanta. Next Age Fitness has the only Fit3D Proscanner inside the 285 perimeter that not only gives body fat information, but also tracks major body measurements and provides a visual avatar that serves well for motivation. Though tracking with a gold standard method, it is currently gathering more data before releasing it from beta. I personally find it a good way to keep in line.
As long as you understand that ALL body composition results (from all methods) are based on a calculation and the only accurate result is done at the cadaver stage; then you will understand that it is not the number to focus on but the direction of the number. So in my opinion, multiple tests over time would be helpful to determine if your food and exercise routine is working as you had planned.
So, for me, I’m fine with a calculation; it’s better than nothing and who wants to wait until that cadaver stage anyway! So let’s talk Gold Standards and my experience/research of them. There are two gold standards: Hydrostatic and DEXA (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry):
Hydrostatic: I’ve done hydrostatic several times. Though I like the data (lean mass & fat mass), it is a test I have difficulty even thinking about doing more than once a quarter. The tests I’ve taken required swimming pool attire, getting into a tub of warm water and going down upon my knees. Facing down to the water, I am asked to put a weight on my back and emerge myself into the water while forcefully expelling all the air I could out of my lungs. Sounds simple. I just wasn’t that good at it. Therefore, I had to repeat it two more times. To me, it wasn’t easy. I loved the data it gave me, but felt it was a bit like drowning so not something I could reasonably expect to do every month. I had a hard time convincing myself to do it even quarterly. So the feedback loop became too long to make changes the would help my fitness goals.
DEXA scan: I have not yet done a DEXA scan, but I plan on doing it someday. DEXA scans measure a body’s absorbance of x-rays at two different energies. Fat, bone mineral and fat free soft tissue have different absorption properties, so the scan can estimate the body composition. It has the advantage of being able to provide bone density estimates and regional estimates of body composition. Sounds like great data to me. I personally shy away from any unnecessary radiation so I haven’t yet done the test. Because of my concerns, it would be unlikely that I could do it often enough to help me change my behavior.
Data is intriguing to me. Since human biology is not as simple as calories in and calories out, having information available to determine progress is valuable to me. If you want data without the drowning (or feeling like it) and without radiation, check out Next Age Fitness. The 3d body scan uses infrared and depth camera imagery to gather data and deliver body measurements, health trends and body fat calculations. Schedule a scan today!
More information on Body composition:
Importance of Body composition
A client recently brought our attention to a great article on HIIT (high intensity interval training) and the SuperSlow approach to exercise. In the article Dr. Mercola talks about a few different approaches to achieving dramatic results in a very short amount of time in exercise.
This article couldn’t be more relevant to what we are doing! While our main focus is intensity we do have some clients doing a SuperSlow style of strength training. The ARX machine is so flexible that it’s not hard to do this. And, just this week, both Tammy and I did a super slow type workout just to mix things up. Rather than targeting the 10 seconds each direction of a rep we are shooting for 90 seconds per exercise. It just happens that we’re choosing speeds for the various exercises that work out to be pretty close to the 10 seconds per direction.
The common theme for all of the studies and approaches mentioned in the article is intensity. Rest assured, you will get an intense workout at Next Age Fitness on our ARX. An interesting side note on intensity – it has a learning curve. If you haven’t done much working out, you will generally not know how to get the most out of the muscle you currently have. Working out intensely then gets better as you go along. You get stronger, and you get better at getting stronger, which makes you get even stronger!
Dr. Mercola really covered some ground in the article. If you read to the end you’ll get a small “taste” of how we try to eat to support a healthy lifestyle and achieve/maintain a healthy weight.
We have over 600 muscles in our bodies and many are used for movement. Bone and muscles work together so you can walk, lift heavy things and wiggle your toes. These calorie burning powerhouses thrive on being challenged and adapt according to what you require of them. If you need them for movement, they will adapt to the movement you ask of them. If you need them to be stronger, they will transform. If you need them for energy, they will break down and fuel your body.Many people are interested in losing weight and there are a lot of diets out there that work, at least short term. There are many studies that conclude that what you eat is extremely important to losing weight. Next Age Fitness has seen success and fully supports Paleo type diets. There are many diets that have enough similarities to Paleo so it’s more about your ability to keep true to the food plan long term and of course the results of the plan.
Understanding body composition changes can help in understanding if your plan is working the way you desire. It is desirable to lose fat. It is undesirable to lose lean body mass especially since muscles are in this category. Body composition testing is less than perfect but worth understanding because losing muscle will make it harder to move, harder to burn calories and harder to retain bone density. And as one ages, strong bones and muscles are important to being independent.
Let’s talk about feasible body composition testing next time :-). Gold standards includes Hydrostatic and DEXA scans; we’ll talk about both. Tracking with Gold standards is the Fit3D Pro-Scanner that’s available at Next Age Fitness and we’ll talk about that too. It’s inside Atlanta’s perimeter and affordable. Schedule a scan today and start making a difference in your body composition, I’ll tell you more when I see you.
More information on Body composition:
Feasible Body Composition Tests in Atlanta
The Paleo Diet is based upon everyday, modern foods that mimic the food groups of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
Below we outline 7 fundamental characteristics of the Paleo Diet that will help to optimize your health and lose weight:
Next Age Fitness Staff